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Sacrifice Animated with Joy
Rachel Zawila
Source: St. Anthony Messenger
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sister Joyce Akinyi, a native of Kenya, began her mission work in the United States in October 2011. Since then, she says she has come to two conclusions: there is a desperate need for religious vocations in America, and Americans need to remember the words of Pope John Paul II—“None are so poor that they have nothing to give, and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive.”

Born in the small village of Asumbi in western Kenya in 1967, Sister Joyce was raised among the native Luo tribe, who speaks both Luo Kiswahili and English. She says she first felt God calling her to serve when she was preparing to make her first Communion as a young girl. “I got inspired by the teaching of our catechist when he talked of giving one’s life to serve God and his Church,” she recalls. “I felt a strong desire and urge to also serve God in this special way.” Following the call, she professed her vows to become a Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph on October 4, 1989.

The 359 professed sisters of St. Joseph, whose motherhouse is in Asumbi, live and serve in 19 dioceses within and outside their country. When Sister Joyce’s religious superiors approached her about serving in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, “in humility, I said yes,” she explains. “When you really know who is calling and sending you, then it’s difficult to resist the silent voice of Jesus through the superiors. So it was never an issue to me to say yes.”

Sister Joyce says she strives to live as Sts. Anthony, Clare, and Francis did. “What attracts me most about them is their utter dependence on God as they embraced the life of poverty, reaching out to the poor people with compassion and love,” she says.

She currently serves at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Nursing Home and St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, both in Virginia Beach. Like St. Francis, she seeks to help “the less fortunate in society as I share with them my talents, time, love, and the word of God through prayer and sacrifice animated with joy.”

Sister Joyce recognizes the needs of her home country but says she feels she is where God is calling her to be for now. “I am convinced, even in America, evangelization is needed,” she says. “As long as my congregation wants me here, I will obey and pray to be a role model and source of religious vocation.”

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